Hotel Roanoke & Conference Center is dropping its DoubleTree Hilton hotel brand and will join a new brand of Hilton Worldwide hotels that features properties boasting individuality and boutique-style atmosphere.
The new brand, the Curio collection, consists of about 30 hotels across the country. It was formed by Hilton about two years ago, and conversations about Hotel Roanoke joining Curio have been happening for more than a year. The Grand Old Lady is the first Virginia hotel to become part of the brand.
Guests probably won’t see much of a difference. General Manager Gary Walton said room rates are expected to stay the same. The hotel’s appearance and staff will mostly be unchanged as well.
The hotel’s famous chocolate chip cookies will be retired, though. The cookies, which are handed out free at the front desk, are a perk courtesy of DoubleTree. Walton, who called the cookies iconic, said the hotel will bring in other food perks as part of the new branding.
Hotel Roanoke announced the switch to Curio on Wednesday at the hotel. Hilton Worldwide President and CEO Chris Nassetta and Virginia Tech President Timothy Sands both spoke during the event.
The Virginia Tech Foundation was given the deed to the property by Norfolk Southern Corp. in 1989. The hotel closed that same year. Virginia Tech and the city of Roanoke later spurred a $42 million renovation and expansion of the property — including the addition of the conference center — and it reopened in 1995.
On Wednesday, Sands said the hotel is still an anchor for Virginia Tech’s footprint in Roanoke. “We really think this is a great place for us to invest, and were really thrilled to see this partnership go to the next level,” he said.
Nassetta said Hotel Roanoke was a “perfect match” for Curio. The Tudor-style hotel’s history dates more than 130 years. It was built in 1882 and still retains aspects of its 1930s reconstruction, according to a news release from the hotel. It features decorative murals and is listed on the National Register of Historic Places.
Walton explained that as part of DoubleTree, the hotel had to adhere to certain standards and requirements in order to be consistent with other DoubleTree hotels. Even small things, such as what items are included in the breakfast buffet, are covered under the standards. With fewer such guidelines under the Curio brand, Hotel Roanoke’s independent characteristics will be able to flourish, he said.
The hotel is in the middle of a $6 million renovation of its guest rooms in anticipation of the change; the work should be completed in the spring. Hotel Roanoke will join the Curio collection Feb. 28.